Letters to MotherJones

De facto criticism a distraction
Re: “Redefining Parenthood”
05/11/01

When it comes down to it, a child knows who his or her parents are — and who’s an auntie, an uncle, or a helpful neighbor. The debate about unrelated third parties being granted parental rights is a red herring meant to detract from the larger issue of gay and lesbian parents — biological or not — being accepted by society to have children at all.

Shawna Rae Kemppainen

 

Infringing on moms’ rights
Re: “Redefining Parenthood”
05/11/01

In the future will I have to worry that my boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife may have “rights” over my child? This is out of control. If my mother thinks for one second that she could dictate how, where, or when I decide to move because she thinks she has certain rights pertaining to my child, I will fight to the finish. It seems that every time I turn around yet another one of my rights is being removed.

Kimberly Wood

 

Frustrating double standard
Re: “Riot of Color”
05/10/01

I think a riot is a riot. But black people in the US get away with murder everyday. Say, for instance, a black man kills a white person in some city — you don’t see white people rioting like this, do you? I think black people in Boston are cool, but I must say that if a black person gets killed by a white person or a cop they go nuts, and white people in the same situation do not.

I also don’t like how blacks can be racists and say they hate white people on TV and get away with it, while whites cannot say they hate black people publicly. I am a white person who loves black people but living in Boston I see reverse racism and I don’t like it.

Tim Sullivan
Boston


 

Back to basics
Re: “Redefining Parenthood”
05/09/01

Children should have as many loving, caring, nurturing adults around them as possible. New same-sex and heterosexual couples should establish “co-parenting” contracts that spell out their responsibilities and rights. (Adults who love children should recognize this and cooperate with it.)

Margaret Pevec

 

Who gets to be violent?
Re: “Smashing Windows for a Better World”
05/09/01

I think that Ted Rall needs to remember that violence only foments social change so long as others are too moral to meet it with greater violence.

Charlie Martin
Broomfield, CO


 

Sirens Still Strong
Re: “Celluloid Sirens, Then and Now”
05/09/01

Reluctantly, I agree with La Salle’s evaluation of the arch of the actress in American film. However, some of his statements were too broad, or leave out contrary examples.

There were pre-code films in which strong women were cast in a positive light, but there were also those characters cast negitively in films (what about “Mata Hari” or “Metropolis”? Try and tell me there was no “vamps are bad” moral to pre-code films).

Also, the assertion that today’s actresses parrot the party line on talk shows and in magazines — or that those magazine articles are “usually accompanied by photos of the actresses in their underwear” — is a subjective judgement call on what the actual intent of these people might actually be, beyond making money.

Be that as it may, characters like Sigorney Weaver’s in “Death and the Maiden,” “La Femme Nikita,” “The Sheltering Sky,” and host are a sure sign that positive female roles have not been banished from the big screen.

Touting “Charlie’s Angels” as exemplary of anything political is tantamount to searching for signs of aliens in your morning tea leaves. Get over it. Certain films just weren’t ment to be taken seriously. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and sometimes a campy film is just made to be fun.

If women want to be equal to men, they will have to be like men. If they want to be better than men they can’t expect a male-dominated media to understand how to portray that unique superiority.

Eric Reaver

 

Someone else’s shoes
Re: “Riot of Color”
05/08/01

I live in Cincinnati and work downtown. I appreciate your thoughtfulness on the matter between the words “riot” and “protest.” My husband and I actually noticed the difference when the protests happened a week later in Quebec too. I am a white female and am not scared of the black men and women in this town raising their fists in frustration.

They have every right to. What happened here in my home town is a travesty. I am surprised it took this long. The good new is that those “riots” have led the way to open dialogue. People who would usually never talk about racial issues are talking. It was bound to happen. I can’t imagine being a black male driving through Blue Ash or Indian Hill (both upper class white suburbs), but now at least I am a little more aware of it.

I wish everyone in our city tried to place themselves in someone else’s shoes. I know it won’t fix everything, but it is a step in the right direction — in the right shoes.

Katie Taft

 

Stupid sonar
Re: “Sound Effects”
05/08/01

This is probably the most hair-brained proposal since Star Wars, or maybe since “remote viewing.” Our taxpayer dollars at work, rendering the planet uninhabitable.

Fred White
Bandon, OR


 

When a riot really is a riot
Re: “Riot of Color”
05/07/01

This story is very disingenuous. In cities like Seattle and Quebec, organized protest got out of hand and led to criminal behavior. In Cincinnati, bands of black youth burned stores, stole from their neighbors and attacked white people in so-called protest of a police shooting.

In Quebec, there were no accusations of looting or stealing — and while certain corporations have been targeted by anti-capitalists, resulting in broken windows and trashed stores, I’ve not heard of anarchists breaking into Starbucks or McDonalds to steal burgers or coffee. Have you? Last year in Seattle, I don’t recall stories of common theft, just pointed destruction of international corporate storefronts. When LA broke out in riots, after Rodney King, “protesters” were looting and stealing diapers, booze, guns, and televisions. That was not a protest, it was a riot. You know it.

Stop apologizing for common thugs. It does a disservice to every decent person of color terrified of thugs roaming the streets for personal gain and gratuitous violence.

Jeffrey Abelson

 

Sonar unnecessary
Re: “Sound Effects”
05/07/01

I think we are a bunch of assholes and monsters if we proceed with this totally unnecessary sonar. Our boys and their toys are going to destroy our planet before they are through, and put a ring of technological garbage around our earth that will rival the rings of Saturn. If they couldn’t even look long enough to see the Japanese fishing boat, who thinks they will really bother to see if whales are around?

I don’t usually talk this way. I’m a proper, 76-year-old former nun, and still a member of a religious group of women.

Mother Jones, congratulations on the magazine award. You richly deserve it.

Janet Barber
Oakland, CA


 

Nonviolence doesn’t work
Re: “Smashing Windows for a Better World”
05/07/01

As one of the tens of thousands of “peaceful protesters” in DC for the anti-inauguration action, I can attest to the fact that nonviolence gets you nowhere. We allowed ourselves to be herded and then dispersed by police, and we dutifully waited our turn to pass through a barricade to the parade route. We obediently held our placards and chanted our slogans while the press turned its back. We have another chance on May 19th, when we will gather to demand electoral reform. Maybe this time we’ll get it right.

Patricia Razeghi

 

Poor explanation of violence
Re: “Smashing Windows for a Better World”
05/07/01

I think it is irresponsible to use the term “violent” to describe property destruction, or even to describe throwing rocks or debris at police, without qualification.

First, as a legal matter, violence justifies myriad police responses which civil disobedience, and even property destruction, do not. Calling window smashing and grafitti violent helps authorities justify their excessive response.

Secondly, lobbing projectiles at police is by and large an ineffectual and symbolic exercise, provoked in the first place by outrageous fetters on free expression, or state violence against protesters. While a rock which finds its mark can cause injury, it is far less likely to do so than the systematic spray of rubber bullets, fired directly and illegally at unprotected heads. A man in Quebec City barely survived, thanks to an emergency tracheotomy, after a rubber bullet crushed his windpipe, and police have bloodied many people and broken many limbs at all of these demonstrations.

I do not mean to say there aren’t occasional instances of actual violence by protesters. But these are extremely rare, and roundly condemned by the bulk of the movement. Government officials know this, but every utterance of the term “violent protests” makes it easier for them to exaggerate the threat and dish out a more draconian response.

Whether the movement remains non-violent depends on whether our economic and political rulers listen to the issues and ultimately yield to reason, or whether they retrench after every protest, and further consolidate their wealth and power. They are ignorant of history to think the US, which now calls itself a democracy more than it acts like one, is immune to violent upheaval. Police states don’t quell violence, they cause it.

Ben Rosenfeld